Welcome Defenders of Data!
I’ve seen a few clients recently who have been in a slight panic over the looming General Data Protection Regulations (the grand new GDPR). For many, the deadline is serving as a good push to catch up and get the ship in order for sailing ethical oceans. During this upheaval it may be helpful to remember the greater ways it is aiding us all.
A Future of Compassion
Regulations such as these are a guiding light towards more compassionate and modern ways of viewing personal identity. By respecting the individual in digital space we are furthering our future freedoms and removing exploitations of power. From this perspective, data privacy rules are another step forward in evolving society. These foundations are vital safeguards for the years to come.
Let’s consider a trio of specific elements to see how they improve our organisations and the lives of our trusting customers.
Everything gets a lot easier once you stop being precious about customer data. Yes, some of the data you’ve accumulated has great value (to you and future society) but there’s no need to tie it to an individual once you’ve served your customers’ needs. Anonymise it in the most ethical way and make aggregations for your analysis or machine learning. This gives you the freedom to purge a lot of unused data from your main systems and reap the benefits of increased performance and reduced storage. It’s a happy situation where doing the right thing is good for everyone.
Lifting Us Up
Food for thought. The Right to Data Portability gives freedom to the data itself. As an evolving entity, it is freed from the world of silos and given wings. Who knows where it will fly to…
Back down to earth, allowing customers to take away their data helps us to see that it is their data and we’re just looking after it for them. Enforced portability enhances competition by giving customers the chance to choose alternatives and start from where they left off. That gives us even more incentive to delight customers so they don’t want to leave and also allows us to welcome in those who have been neglected elsewhere. It could potentially be a cost saver too if the on-boarding process is complete enough and we trust the third party inputs. In reality, I think true interoperability will have a slow and wonky start but it will grow in usefulness as exchange formats become standardised.
The power of these rights lays in the guidance towards a caring path. If we truly care, we take honourable measures to protect privacy and do the right thing instinctively. When an individual commits to sharing their details they rightly expect us to keep them safe. A standard framework for declaring security breaches clarifies the relationship of trust between us. Outlining the potential pitfalls and the consequences of data leaks shows us what to defend against and raises the bar on security standards. In this case, we tighten security and make hires that sustain it because security is a continuous process. And if we make mistakes, we’re honest, apologetic and we make change.
Like all good companies, we treat customers as we would like to be treated.
It’s easy to see regulations such as the GDPR as a distraction and an expensive problem that we didn’t have before. In truth, respecting individual privacy is a benefit to us all and simply part of doing business in the caring society we aspire to build. We will all be grateful that we laid these foundations for a future more fair and more free.
On the way to impeccable respect of data we find other opportunities. We should go far beyond simply ticking boxes in order to comply. Let us allow these rules to shift individual attitudes within our organisation and define a culture of consideration at every level.
To those of you engineering this technical guardianship, know that you’re doing a great job and you’ll be rewarded by each other’s work. Wear your emerald with pride!